Saturday, April 20, 2013

Proposed Laws Regulating Condo Development Aim To Curb Horror Stories Caused By Builders, Converters That Peddle Problem Units To Unwitting Homebuyers

In Edmonton, Alberta, The Calgary Herald reports:

  • Changes to the Condominium Property Act won't come fast enough for Trish Millard, who worries she'll have to walk away from her Rutherford-area condo.

    She bought it new for $280,000 five years ago. Problems followed.

    First the residents discovered the attic was built without fire separations after a small fire on the third floor. The condo corporation filed a lawsuit against the developer, builder and architect.

    Last fall, a city safety inspector found their balconies did not meet the building code.

    They've added that to the $2-million lawsuit and have already spent about $70,000 in legal fees trying to recoup the cost of repairs. Millard doubts they'll see a penny. If they don't, she figures each owner will be asked to pay $40,000 to $50,000 to cover all the repairs. "I've had two financial advisers tell me to just walk away from it," she said.

    Changes to the Condominium Property Act that could protect people like Millard were in a discussion paper released in February by Service Alberta. Condo owners and others in the industry have until May 2 to give their opinions. The survey can be found online at

    Changes would affect hundreds of thousands of people living in the nearly 8,000 condo buildings in Alberta. "From top to bottom, I believe this act needs a look," said Manmeet Bhul-lar, Minister of Service Alberta. "I'm hoping for changes as soon as possible. Tell us what you think the act needs to have."
  • It's easy to find horror stories regarding structural problems in relatively new buildings. Condo residents across Edmonton have been struggling with leaky stucco applications.

    In Leduc, a long list of safety problems resulted in temporary evictions for Bellavera Green residents.

    Structural issues forced Fort McMurray's Penhorwood Condominium residents out one day at midnight.

    The problems might reflect a different system of enforcement. City safety code officers inspect single-family homes an average of 12 times at many points during construction, but for condo buildings or anything taller than three storeys, professional architects and engineers are involved, says city staff.

    Inspectors generally visit the site only for complaints or at the request of the builder, visiting a minimum of twice for inspections.

NYC Landlord Tags High-Powered Local Real Estate Broker In Lawsuit For Intentionally Concealing Income Level To Score Deep Discount On Rented Residence

In New York City, bigtime real estate operator Harry Macklowe recently filed suit against one of his tenants, well-known, high-powered local real estate broker Carol Cohen, for allegedly intentionally concealing her income level to avoid high-income rent deregulation of the rented premises she currently resides in.

Cohen is accused of availing herself of the protection of the local rent control/rent stabilization law to keep her monthly rent artificially low and way below fair market value when, according to the landlord's suit, her high income level disqualifies her from such statutory protection.

Reportedly, she pays $3,000 per month, while a similar apartment two floors up goes for three times as much, according to a recent story in the New York Post.

For the lawsuit, see 737 Park Ave. Acquisition LLC v. Cohen, et al.

See also, The Real Deal: Macklowe sets sights on Carol Cohen’s rent-stabilized unit at 737 Park Avenue (Litigious landlord wants state regulators to inspect broker’s tax returns).

Lawsuit: Niece Used 4-Year Charade To Dupe HOA, Landlord Into Thinking Dead Aunt Was Still Alive To Keep Deceased's $287/Month Rent Stabilized Brooklyn Apartment

In Brooklyn, New York, the New York Post reports:

  • A Brooklyn scammer spent four years fooling her dead aunt’s co-op board into thinking the woman was still alive, to keep living in the rent-stabilized apartment for $287 a month, a lawsuit charges.(1)

    Brenda Williams, 55, gave neighbors regular health updates on Debbie Vaughan long after the woman died at age 93 in 2007 — and pulled out all the stops to keep board members at the Prospect Park building from trying to contact the woman, the lawsuit says.

    Williams claimed “her aunt was paranoid and senile and if we knocked on the door, she would have a heart attack,” said the co-op board’s president, Diana Hansen-Young. The suit was filed Phillip Cramer, the apartment's owner.

    The alleged scam was uncovered in 2010, when Hansen-Young and a plumber went into the apartment on Vanderbilt Avenue to fix a leak. [...] When Cramer checked death records, he found that Vaughan had died almost four years earlier.

    Cramer is now trying to evict Williams from the 550-square-foot apartment, which has hardwood floors, exposed brick and high ceilings — and should rent for about $2,200 a month. Cramer had kept Vaughan’s rent low — even as the neighborhood gentrified — because of her advanced age, poor health and poverty, the suit says.

    Before Vaughan’s death, Williams told Cramer she lived with her aunt and helped out by “cooking for her, bathing her, and taking her to doctors, supermarkets, church and senior-citizen centers,” the suit charges.

    But Williams really lived down the block with a boyfriend, said attorney Peter Sanders, who filed the $405,000 suit in Brooklyn Supreme Court on March 20.

    She moved into the apartment after her aunt died,” Sanders said. “She would pay the rent by money order with her aunt’s name years after her aunt died.”

Friday, April 19, 2013

Connecticut Feds: Fairfield Housing Authority Executive Director Pilfered $30K From Agency Tasked With Helping Provide Affordable Housing For Eligible Low-Income Families, Elderly

From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (Hartford, Connecticut):

  • David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, [] announced that a federal grand jury [...] has returned an indictment charging ELIZABETH JO GUTIERREZ, 47, of Ridgefield, with one count of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds. The indictment alleges that GUTIERREZ embezzled $30,000 from the Fairfield Housing Authority.
  • The Fairfield Housing Authority administers federal housing programs for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development with the mission of providing affordable housing for eligible low-income families and the elderly.

    According to the indictment, GUTIERREZ served as the Executive Director of the Fairfield Housing Authority from approximately July 2010 to December 2011. In the summer of 2011, GUTIERREZ issued two checks, each in the amount of $15,000, from the Fairfield Housing Authority’s checking account and subsequently deposited them into her own checking account.

Flooded With Vacant Rundown REOs, Detroit's 'Non-Foreclosure' Sales Inventory Fails To 'Appraise Out' - Leads To Lost Home Equity For Selling Owner-Occupants Despite Buyer Willingness To Pay More

In Detroit, Michigan, Bloomberg reports:

  • In most American cities, a limestone home with a large front turret and paneled library would have a waiting list of buyers at $135,000. In Detroit’s Rosedale neighborhood, it almost didn’t sell at all.

    The first offer of $150,000 fell through when the 2,600- square-foot (242 square-meter) Tudor style home appraised for $85,000, dragged down by comparisons with sales of foreclosed homes in nearby rundown areas, said Tom Goddeeris, executive director of the non-profit Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp., which rehabbed the home. A $135,000 offer squeaked by after a $110,000 appraisal, he said.

    We felt we had little choice but to take the second offer, although there were obviously willing buyers at higher prices,” said Goddeeris, who estimates similar mismatches between market value and appraisals mean the association loses about $15,000 on each home they fix up and sell in the 5,500 property area. About 10 percent of Rosedale’s homes are vacant.

    Flawed appraisals and a dearth of normal, non-foreclosure sales to serve as comparisons have put mortgages out of reach for most potential buyers, even in the best neighborhoods like Grandmont Rosedale that are the focus of officials’ efforts to revive Detroit. In a city of about 700,000, there were just 578 mortgages for purchases last year, according to RealtyTrac, an Irvine, California-based data provider.

Homeowner: Couple Claiming To Be From Mortgage Company Broke Into My Home & Ripped Me Off

In Athens, Georgia, AthensPatch reports:

  • A man said he arrived at his Altarstone Drive residence around 12:30pm on April 2. He saw a white woman and a white man loading items into a silver pickup truck in his back yard.

    When the resident confronted them, they told him they were from the mortgage company and were there to clean the house out becuase it was going into foreclosure. The man said he checked with his mortgage company and was told no one should be cleaning out the house.

    When the resident tried calling the number the couple gave him, they hung up on him. A laptop, jewelry, clock, desk top computer, and TVs were stolen. The total value was $8,300. No further descriptions were given of the suspects. He believes the truck was a Toyota.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Quartet Cop Guilty Pleas In Iowa 'Free House' Case; Hubby Conned Lender To Grant Home Loan Without Wife's Signature, Making Mortgage Void Under State Homestead Law

In Des Moines, Iowa, the Des Moines Register reports:

  • Four people, including a Des Moines police lieutenant, pleaded guilty Friday to charges related to a mortgage fraud scheme, federal prosecutors announced.

    The two couples were accused of falsifying loan information and taking part in a plan to exploit a mortgage law loophole to obtain a free house in Ankeny.

    Jamie Bowers-Danielson, 35, and Matthew Danielson, 35, of Ankeny both pleaded guilty of bank fraud. Bowers-Danielson also pleaded guilty of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

    Bobbi Jo Wojewoda, 43, of Grimes, pleaded guilty of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Her husband, Des Moines police Lt. Wade Charles Wojewoda, 45, of Grimes, pleaded guilty of receipt of proceeds obtained under false pretenses, related to the 2003 purchase of the couple’s home.

    In his written plea agreement, Danielson admitted to listing himself as single to deceive a lender into giving him a mortgage without obtaining his wife’s signature, thus making the mortgage void, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Nicholas A Klinefeldt.

    The Danielsons’ case gained notoriety in 2011, when the couple persuaded an Iowa appellate court to void a foreclosure proceeding based on an an 1888 law that requires both spouses to sign a mortgage.(1)

    Bowers-Danielson, who worked as a loan originator for two different companies between 2003 and 2007, used her position to fake information on loan applications for herself and others who otherwise would not have qualified for the loans, according the news release.

    Bobbi Jo Wojewoda, meanwhile, used her position as an apprentice appraiser to inflate the values of homes, including her own, to help herself and others qualify for mortgage loans, according to the news release.

    According to an indictment unsealed in 2012, Wade Wojewoda signed documents with false information.

    Wojewoda remains employed by the Des Moines Police Department in an administrative position where he is not allowed to supervise other employees, said Sgt. Jason Halifax, a Des Moines police spokesman.

    Des Moines police officials will determine the future of Wojewoda’s employment following an internal investigation that will begin now that the criminal case has concluded, Halifax said. Wojewoda was re-assigned and stripped of his patrol supervision responsibilities following the indictment.

    The Danielsons will be sentenced July 26. The Wojewodas will be sentenced July 31. All four remain released from jail pending their sentencing.

    Bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud are punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million. Receipt of proceeds under false pretenses is punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of $100,000.

Virginia AG Tags Loan Modification Operator For Allegedly Clipping Homeowners For Upfront Fees For Foreclosure Rescue Services

From the Office of the Virginia Attorney General:

  • Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced [] that he has filed a lawsuit against Alexandria resident Joel Steinberg and his two Alexandria-based mortgage loan modification companies, MidAtlantic Loan Solutions, Inc. (MLS), and MidAtlantic Financial Solutions, LLC (MFS), for allegedly charging illegal advance fees of up to $1,500 before performing "foreclosure rescue" services for their customers.

    The attorney general alleges that Steinberg, MLS, and MFS violated the Virginia Foreclosure Rescue law by charging advance fees in connection with services to avoid or prevent foreclosure. The foreclosure rescue law prohibits a supplier of foreclosure avoidance or prevention services from "charging or receiving a fee prior to the full and complete performance of the services it has agreed to perform, if the transaction does not involve the sale or transfer of residential real property."
For the Virginia AG press release, see Attorney General Cuccinelli announces suit against Alexandria-based mortgage modification companies and owner (MidAtlantic Loan Solutions, MidAtlantic Financial Solutions allegedly charged illegal advance fees for "foreclosure rescue" services).

Couple Who Allegedly Filed $114B In 'Retaliation' Liens Against Public Officials Withdraw Guilty Pleas, Decide To Move Forward In Defending Against Prosecution

In Ramsey County, Minnesota, the Pioneer Press reports:

  • An Itasca County couple charged in a $114 billion harassment scheme involving bogus liens now say they want to withdraw their guilty pleas.

    Thomas and Lisa Eilertson, formerly of Brooklyn Park and Minneapolis, pleaded guilty April 4 to 12 felony counts each. They had refused earlier that day to enter guilty or not-guilty pleas.

    On Tuesday, April 9, they filed a 140-page document that included, among other things, copies of the plea agreements with lines through them and, in large handwritten letters, "RESCISSION."

    In the cover letter, the Eilertsons wrote that their pleas were "withdrawn and refused without dishonor, without recourse, as slander of title, rights prejudiced, deceptive trade practices, deceit dishonor defamation by: (Ramsey County Attorney) John J. Choi, with article in PIONEER PRESS and MEDIA slander." Choi was quoted in a Pioneer Press story about the guilty pleas.

    "Defendants wish to move forward and not be used as pawns for John Choi's political slander," the Eilertsons wrote in an affidavit included with the Tuesday filing. They wanted to resolve the matter in "good faith," they wrote, but were thwarted by "the malicious intent to prosecute."

    Dennis Gerhardstein, a spokesman for the county attorney's office, said Thursday that the office had no comment.

    In a news release last week, Choi called what the Eilertsons did "financial and economic terrorism."

    Thomas Eilertson, 45, and Lisa Eilertson, 49, represented themselves in court. Sentencing is scheduled before Ramsey County District Judge Lezlie Marek on June 7.

    As part of the guilty pleas, the Eilertsons had agreed to remove all liens filed against public officials, who include Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek. They also agreed not to file bogus liens in the future.

    The deal also stipulated that in exchange, the maximum jail time they would face was 120 days, providing they had no felony convictions on their records. They also would pay restitution for their crimes. The charges were to be reduced to misdemeanors if they followed the terms of their five-year probation, the agreement stated.

    The Eilertsons filed false liens against 12 victims, using the name "Blessings of Liberty," according to criminal complaints filed in Ramsey County District Court.

    The Hennepin County sheriff's office referred the case to St. Paul police for investigation because several of the victims are Hennepin County officials.

    The Eilertsons' activities stemmed from 2009, when their home at 4448 Cedar Ave. S. in Minneapolis went into foreclosure.

    An online contact, identified in the complaints by the initials P.K., gave them instructions on how to file Uniform Commercial Code liens against people in retaliation for their economic problems. They were told that filing under the name "Blessings of Liberty" shielded them from civil and criminal liability.

    P.K. said the liens, which are claims against an asset, would allow the Eilertsons to "do death by a thousand paper cuts."

    The liens were filed in 2009 and 2010 with the secretary of state's office in St. Paul and totaled $114 billion.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Municipal Foreclosure Sale Triggered By Unpaid $600 Garbage Bill Raises Questions Over Crappy Legal Notice Given To Delinquent Homeowners

In Buffalo, New York, The Buffalo News reports:

  • The Cottones’ first indication that something was amiss came in a panicked call from one of their tenants, who had just opened an envelope from the City of Buffalo. Their house in Parkside had been sold.

    “You can’t imagine the stress of thinking the unthinkable, that something has happened and your house is gone,” Jerry Cottone said.

    An unpaid garbage fee of about $600 had landed their house on the city’s auction list.

    The Cottones eventually won their house back in court. But in the meantime, they had to hire a lawyer, get a judge’s order, miss work and spend countless hours worrying that they had lost their investment property.

    Their situation raises the question of what lengths the city or any municipality must pursue when notifying homeowners of delinquent fees and taxes, and the consequences of foreclosing on properties that owe small amounts.

    Jerry and his wife, Catherine Cook-Cottone, acknowledge they forgot about the garbage fee when they moved to Amherst in 2010 and didn’t join the city’s rental registry, which allows the city to find property owners who live elsewhere. But they said they received no notice that their house was in danger of being foreclosed. They did receive other city bills at their Amherst home and paid them, so they thought the city knew where they were.

    “At 6 o’clock at night, your tenant calls you and says the letter says the house has been sold, and you have no idea what the heck could be going on,” said Jerry Cottone. He got the call in early December, five weeks after the house was sold.

    The Cottones lived in the Woodward Avenue house for 10 years and kept it as an investment property when they moved. They said they never saw the garbage fee bills sent to Woodward.

    After two years, the unpaid fees amounted to about $600, so the city sold their two-family house, assessed at $147,000, for $110,000 in the city auction.

    The city sends out some 14 notices to a property owner that their home is on the city’s auction list, warning them to pay up or lose the house, but the Cottones said they never received any.

    But when the city sent a notice to Woodward that the house had been sold, their tenants opened it and immediately called them.

    The tenants also routinely gave them junk mail, such as advertisements for sweepstakes, the Cottones said, so they doubt foreclosure notices from the city were being discarded. The tenants submitted statements to the court saying they never received the city’s notices.

    The city’s top attorney, Corporation Counsel Timothy A. Ball, insisted that the city did indeed send notices to the Woodward Avenue house, as it does for every property whose owners have fallen behind in their bills. “The city complied with all laws, rules and regulations,” Ball said.

    First-class letters to the Woodward Avenue property from the city were not returned to the city as undeliverable, though a certified letter was, according to the city’s submission to the court.

    Property owners who have lost their house at the auction but were not notified is something attorney Paul B. Curtin hears often enough for him to think it’s a problem.

    “People come to me in huge, major crisis,” said Curtin, who works for Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo and represents low-income defendants who are in danger of losing their homes. “Why would so many people on such a regular basis try to game me with that excuse?”
For more, see Amherst couple’s foreclosure nightmare is a real-life cautionary tale (Amherst couple’s first sign their Buffalo property was in arrears was a notice that it had been sold at auction).

Captured Fugitive Cops Plea For Running Fractional Interest Deed Transfer Foreclosure Rescue Scam; Racket Using Stolen I.Ds To Gum Up Repo Process Spanned Nearly 15-Year Period

From the U.S. Department of Justice (Washington, D.C.):

  • A former Los Angeles resident, who fled to Canada and was a federal fugitive for 12 years, pleaded guilty today to aggravated identity theft and bankruptcy fraud in connection with leading a nearly 15-year foreclosure-rescue scam that fraudulently postponed foreclosure sales for more than 800 distressed homeowners, [...].

    Glen Alan Ward, 48, pleaded guilty in connection with three separate sets of charges in the Central and Northern Districts of California, all stemming from Ward’s 15-year fraud.

    In 2000, Ward became a federal fugitive when he failed to appear in court after signing a plea agreement, which arose out of federal charges in 2000 in the Central District of California related to Ward’s early conduct in the scheme.

    In 2002, Ward was indicted on multiple counts of bankruptcy fraud in the Northern District of California for continuing the scheme in and around San Francisco. On Aug. 17, 2012, Ward was indicted on mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, and additional bankruptcy fraud counts in the Central District of California after fleeing to Canada and continuing his fraud from there.

    While in Canada, Ward recruited Frederic Alan Gladle, who was indicted in the Central District of California for bankruptcy fraud and identity theft in 2011, and was sentenced in 2012 to 61 months in custody for engaging in similar conduct.

    On April 5, 2012, Ward was arrested in Canada by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Waterloo Regional Police Service based on a U.S. provisional arrest warrant. On Dec. 21, 2012, Ward was extradited to the United States to answer all three sets of charges.

    “Glen Alan Ward spent years preying on distressed homeowners and stealing the identities of bankruptcy debtors, all to pad his own pockets,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman. “Now he faces years in prison for his crimes. This successful prosecution illustrates our commitment to tirelessly pursuing fraudsters and ensuring that sophisticated schemes that prey on vulnerable homeowners will not go unpunished.”
  • According to the plea agreement filed today before U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer in the Central District of California, Ward admitted to engaging in a fraud scheme that took place from 1997 to April 5, 2012, the day he was arrested by Canadian authorities. According to the plea agreement, Ward led a scheme that solicited and recruited homeowners whose properties were in danger of imminent foreclosure.

    Ward promised to delay their foreclosures for as long as the homeowners could afford his $700 monthly fee. Once a homeowner paid the fee, Ward accessed a public bankruptcy database and retrieved the name of an individual debtor who recently filed bankruptcy.

    Ward admitted that he obtained copies of unsuspecting debtors’ bankruptcy petitions and directed his clients to execute, notarize and record a grant deed transferring generally a 1/100th fractional interest in their distressed home into the name of the debtor that Ward provided. Then, after stealing the debtor’s identity, Ward faxed a copy of the bankruptcy petition, the notarized grant deed and a cover letter to the homeowner’s lender or the lender’s representative, directing it to stop the impending foreclosure sale due to the bankruptcy.

    Because bankruptcy filings give rise to automatic stays that protect debtors’ properties, the receipt of the bankruptcy petitions and deeds in the debtors’ names forced lenders to cancel foreclosure sales. The lenders, [...] could not move forward to collect money that was owed to them until getting permission from the bankruptcy courts, thereby repeatedly delaying the lenders’ recovery of their money for months and even years.

    In addition, if a distressed homeowner wanted to complete a loan modification or short sale, they were left to the mercy of Ward to send them forged deeds, supposedly signed by the debtors, to re-unify their title as required by most lenders.

    As part of the scheme, Ward delayed the foreclosure sales of approximately 824 distressed properties by using at least 414 bankruptcies filed in 26 judicial districts across the country.(1)

    During that same period, Ward admitted to collecting more than $1.2 million from his clients who paid for his illegal foreclosure-delay services, all of which he has agreed to forfeit.
For the Justice Department press release, see Former Federal Fugitive Pleads Guilty in California to Massive Fraud and Identity Theft Scheme in Connection with Nationwide Foreclosure Scam (Defendant Collected More Than $1.2 Million from More Than 800 Distressed Homeowners).

(1) See Final Report Of The Bankruptcy Foreclosure Scam Task Force for a discussion of fractional interest deed transfer scams and other foreclosure rescue rackets involving the abuse of the bankruptcy courts.

Philly DA: Local Scammer Used Dirty Deeds To Hijack Title To Five Homes, Skimmed Rent & Security Deposits From Unwitting Tenants In Leasing Apartments He Had No Relationship With

From the Office of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania District Attorney:

  • The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has charged 41-year-old Dwayne Stewart of West Philadelphia with “stealing” five properties in the City and County of Philadelphia, theft from at least 12 additional victims in fraudulent real estate scams and passing bad checks to victims including the City of Philadelphia Recorder of Deeds Office.(

    The long term investigation lead by the Southwest Detective Division of the Philadelphia Police Department revealed that houses at 2545 N. Newkirk Street, 916 W. Huntingdon Street, 2613 W. Harold Street, 3025 N. Warnock Street and 2148 Reese Street were all stolen by Stewart from an elderly victim through the creation and recording of fraudulent deeds. Stewart then, in several instances, sold or tried to sell these stolen homes to unsuspecting buyers.

    In addition, using both Newkirk St., Huntingdon St. and other properties in Southwest Philadelphia Steward defrauded apartment seekers and apartment owners by unlawfully renting out apartments, accepting deposits and payments for apartments with which he had no relationship. In several cases, without the knowledge of the true owner or the rental agency, Stewart left the unsuspecting tenants stranded with no home.(1)
For the Philadelphia DA press release, see Dwayne Stewart Arrested for “Stealing Houses” in Philadelphia.

(1) Stewart has been charged with :
  • Forgery (F-3)- 7 counts,
  • Theft-Unlawful Taking or Disposition (F-3)- 13 counts,
  • Theft-Unlawful Taking or Disposition (M-1)- 3 counts,
  • Att. Theft-Unlawful Taking or Disposition (F-3)- 1 count,
  • Theft by Deception (F-3)- 13 counts,
  • Theft by Deception (M-1)- 3 counts,
  • Att. Theft by Deception (F-3)- 1 count,
  • Receiving Stolen Property (F-3)-7 counts,
  • Receiving Stolen Property (M-1)- 3 counts,
  • Deceptive Practices (F-3)- 1 count,
  • Tampering w/Public Records/Information (F-3)- 8 counts,
  • Tampering w/Records or Identification (M-1)- 8 counts,
  • Defiant Trespass (F-3)- 1 count,
  • Securing Execution of Docs (M-2)- 10 counts,
  • Bad Checks (M-1)- 1 count,
  • Bad Checks (M-2)- 4 counts.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Federal Reserve, OCC Invoke Their Purported "Trade Secrets" Obligation To Banksters To Stiff Congress On Document Request Centering On Types Of Foreclosure Fraud Abuses Committed By Each Mortgage Servicer

Reuters reports:

  • Two Democratic lawmakers lambasted federal regulators whom they accuse of using an obligation to protect bank "trade secrets" as an excuse not to hand over details of a botched review of home foreclosures.

    "Breaking the law is not a corporate trade secret," Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland told the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in a letter on Wednesday.

    The regulators reached settlements worth about $9.3 billion with 13 banks earlier this year to end case-by-case reviews of whether they had wrongly seized homes or begun the foreclosure process.
  • Regulators had already turned over some information about the reviews, but the lawmakers wanted to look at documents concerning the types of abuses committed by each mortgage servicer.

    But regulators resisted turning over such information and said documents involved are trade secrets, or subject to confidentiality agreements, according to the lawmakers.

Calculating Bankster-Paid Legal Fees For Non-Profit Law Firm Taking "Undesirable" Consumer Law Case Alleging Unconscionable Conduct When Originating, Servicing Home Loan; Judge Grants Add'l 20% Contingency Fee Bonus

In Charleston, West Virginia, The West Virginia Record reports:

  • Mountain State Justice, the nonprofit law firm that helps low-income individuals, will recover only 69 percent of what it was requesting for helping a Beckley woman sue Wells Fargo.

    U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston ruled March 29 that Mountain State Justice is entitled to $24,784.32 in attorneys fees and $3,349.60 in costs and expenses incurred during Ann Koontz’s lawsuit against Wells Fargo. He cited hourly rates that were too high and vague timesheets.

    Koontz accused Wells Fargo of engaging in unconscionable conduct concerning the origination and servicing of her home mortgage loan.(1)

    Using a lodestar analysis, Johnston determined Mountain State Justice was entitled to $20,653.60 for its work, but he increased the amount by 20 percent.(2) Wells Fargo did not disagree.

    “In light of (a March decision by the state Supreme Court),(3) the particular facts of this case and the absence of any opposition by Defendant, the court is inclined to agree that the lodestar analysis in this case does not adequately measure the true market value of Plaintiff’s uniquely situated counsel,” Johnston wrote.

    In the March decision by the Supreme Court, a Harrison County woman was awarded $32,000 after being foreclosed on. A $30,000 award of attorneys fees to Mountain State Justice was affirmed in the decision.(4)

    Harrison County Circuit Court Judge Thomas A. Bedell had ruled that Mountain State Justice survives on fees collected in “undesirable” cases.

    In Koontz’s case, she alleged Wells Fargo told her that her mortgage payment would be $614, but her closing was rushed and hurried without a sufficient explanation of the loan documents and loan terms. At closing, she says she was told her payment would be more than $700 per month.

    “Ms. Koontz continued with the loan closing because it was too late to back out,” the complaint says. By 2008, the payment had increased to $980, she says.

    On Feb. 28, 2012, the case was dismissed after Koontz and Wells Fargo reached a settlement. However, three months later, Koontz filed a motion to re-open the case.

    The two sides had reached an agreement on everything except the amount of attorneys fees. Mountain State Justice sought $40,484.60 as compensation for the work of attorneys Jennifer Wagner, Sara Bird and Dan Hedges.

    That figure represented hourly rates of $275 for Wagner and Bird, $425 for Hedges and $100 for paralegal work.

    Wells Fargo argued the hourly rates were unreasonable and unsupported by evidence of area market rates and that billing records offered little detail of the work provided.

    In support of their requests, the three Mountain State Justice attorneys filed affidavits, but none of them include the names of the attorneys with whom they spoke about the going hourly rate for the services they provided.

    When Wells Fargo challenged their requests, they filed affidavits from peer attorneys John Poffenbarger, Benjamin Bailey, Anthony Majestro and David Grubb.

    Johnston said only Grubb specializes in consumer law and the other three affidavits were too brief. He also noted an identical statement – “I believe these rates are reasonable, and within the range of hourly rates charged for attorneys of their experience and background in this community” – within each of the four affidavits.

    Johnston said the affidavits were deficient for the following reasons:

    -Poffenbarger’s and Majestro’s affidavits contain no representations that they know the reputations, skills and training of the three attorneys;

    -Bailey’s affidavit “fails to characterize Mr. Hedges’ work one way or another”;

    -Grubb’s affidavit has statements attesting to the reputation and skill of only Hedges and not the other two; and

    -The affidavits do not provide evidence of “the prevailing market rates in the relevant community for the type of work” for which Plaintiff seeks an award.

    Wagner performed most of the work on the case, charging $30,085 for 109.4 hours. Hedges charged $5,100 for 12 hours.

    Johnston found that a reasonable hourly rate for Wagner is $160, noting her federal clerkship term, lectures on consumer law issues and some appellate experience. He added that she was a “very inexperienced” attorney at the time the case was filed.

    “In selecting this rate the Court also considered the fact that Plaintiff tendered an affidavit by Ms. Wagner, lead counsel in the case, that inexplicably fails to set forth fundamental, simple and essential facts: when she graduated from law school, the length of her clerkship term, and the type of legal practice prior to joining Mountain State Justice,” Johnston wrote.

    Hedges’ appropriate hourly rate, Johnston wrote, is $375. He called him a “preeminent consumer law attorney who has devoted his lengthy career to this highly specialized area of public interest law.”

    Johnston then wrote about deficiencies in Wagner’s timesheets. They failed to describe with any specificity the tasks she was performing, he said. Some of her entries simply said “legal research,” “revise,” “draft,” “discovery,” “email,” and “preparation.”

    “Ms. Wagner’s time entries became somewhat more detailed as the case went on, presumably because she gained more experience as a lawyer,” he wrote.

    A 10 percent reduction of the hours billed remedied the vague entries, leaving Wagner’s amount of hours she could charge for at 98.46.
Source: Judge slashes Mountain State Justice’s fees request.

For the ruling, see Koontz v. Wells Fargo, N.A., Civil Action No. 2:10-cv-00864 (S.D. W.V. March, 29, 2013).

(1) Quoting from the Federal court ruling:
  • This case, originally filed in state court and later removed to this Court, centered on allegations that Defendant Wells Fargo N.A. engaged in unconscionable conduct concerning the origination and servicing of Plaintiff Ann L. Koontz's home mortgage loan in violation of the West Virginia Consumer Credit Protection Act ("WVCCPA"), West Virginia Code §§ 46A-1-101, et seq. (1996) and common law.
(2) The 20 percent mark-up on top of the basic fee calculation awarded by U.S. District Judge Johnson was to account for a contingency fee multiplier or bonus to reflect, among other things, the "undesirability" of the case taken by the attorney (often, a non-profit, public interest law firm) in the context of fee-shifting statutes.

In awarding the fee enhancement, Judge Johnston indicates that said award is generally not the common practice in a federal court proceeding, but was influenced, in part, by West Virginia state court precedent to do so here.

Quoting from the ruling:
  • Under West Virginia law, a "contingency enhancement" (sometimes referred to as a multiplier), may be "used to enhance the `normal' hourly fee to compensate for the risk of loss." Comm. on Legal Ethics v. Triplett, 378 S.E.2d 82, 93 (W. Va. 1988).

    The West Virginia Supreme Court has recognized, however, that "[t]he great weight of authority is that the lodestar calculation is the general rule in awarding attorneys' fees with occasional contingency enhancement." Bishop Coal, 380 S.E.2d at 249 n.10; see also Heldreth, 637 S.E.2d at 366 n.11 (noting that in federal courts the use of a fee enhancement mechanism in conjunction with fee-shifting statutes has been expressly rejected citing City of Burlington v. Dague, 505 U.S. 557, 565-66 (1992)).
  • Importantly, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, as noted supra, recently approved of the trial court's consideration of the fact that the plaintiff was represented by Mountain State Justice and that Mountain State Justice was a "unique organization" that "survives based upon fees collected in `undesirable' cases such as [plaintiff's]." Vanderbilt, 2013 WL 870442, slip op. at *24. The West Virginia Supreme Court stated that this was a proper consideration under Aetna's "undesirability" factor. Id.

    In light of Vanderbilt, the particular facts of this case, and the absence of any opposition by Defendant, the Court in inclined to agree that the lodestar analysis in this case does not adequately measure the true market value of Plaintiff's uniquely situated counsel.

    Accordingly, the Court FINDS that a twenty percent enhancement to the lodestar figure of $20,653.60 is appropriate in this case and, thus, AWARDS $24,784.32 in attorneys' fees and $3,349.60 expenses to Plaintiff for a total award of $28,133.92.

    In making this determination, this Court was mindful of its duty to apply West Virginia law in its attorneys' fees reasonableness analysis to the extent that federal law conflicts with West Virginia law.

    In the face of the "strong presumptionunder federal law that the lodestar figure represents a reasonable fee, an enhancement based on the fact that Mountain State Justice's lawyers served as counsel may not have been applied but for consideration of West Virginia precedent and Defendant's failure to respond to this factor.

    Importantly, the Court's decision to apply this enhancement in this case should not signal that it will apply an enhancement in every case where Mountain State Justice's lawyers serve as counsel. Rather, the Court's decision to apply the enhancement was purely an exercise of its discretion under the particular facts of this case.
For more on the contingency fee bonus when calculating prevailing party legal fees, whether in pro bono cases or otherwise, see:

LA Sheriff: Scammer Used Forged Deeds, Phony Mechanics Liens On 100+ Properties To Snatch Surplus Cash From F'closure Sales, Fraudulently Score Secured Loans, Squeeze 'Shake Down' Cash From F'closing Lenders; Suspect Held On $1.24M Bail

From the Office of the Los Angeles County Sheriff:

  • A 36 count felony complaint against 30-year old Anna Moskovyan of Van Nuys was filed by the Los Angeles County County District Attorney's Office on March 21, 2013. The complaint alleges multiple counts of Grand Theft, and the Recording of False and Fraudulent Documents related to over 100 properties in Los Angeles County and beyond.

    On March 28, 2013, detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Commercial Crimes Bureau arrested Suspect Moskovyan when she appeared at Glendale Court on an unrelated matter.

    It is alleged that between April 2010, and June 2012, Moskovyan committed numerous sophisticated fraudulent acts of various types throughout Los Angeles County. Those fraudulent acts allegedly included the following:

    1. Moskovyan identified real estate properties that were scheduled for tax lien sales by the Los Angeles County Treasurer and Tax Collector’s Office. Moskovyan then recorded forged Grant Deeds at the Los Angeles County Recorder’s Office transferring ownership of the properties from the rightful owners to herself. She then filed claims to receive the “excess proceeds” from the tax lien sales. In other words, she fraudulently claimed the rights to receive the money left over after a property is sold and the tax liens were paid off.

    2. Moskovyan recorded dozens of phony Mechanic’s Liens, for painting work which was never done, on the titles of real estate properties which were in foreclosure. Several financial institutions paid Moskovyan to remove the fraudulent Mechanics Liens in order to clear the titles so the properties could be foreclosed upon and resold.

    3. Moskovyan fraudulently transferred the ownership of two real estate properties to herself by recording forged Grant Deeds. She then applied for, and received, loans using the fraudulently obtained properties as collateral.

    Moskovyan’s alleged activities, which netted her approximately $100,000, came to light when several of the property owners and their families filed complaints with the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs.

    The investigation was conducted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Real Estate Fraud Team, the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs, and the Los Angeles Police Department.

    Mechanic Liens were recorded on properties in Altadena, Canoga Park, Canyon Country, Cerritos, Diamond Bar, Downey, Hacienda Heights, La Canada, La Mirada, La Puente, Lakewood, North Hollywood, North Hills, Northridge, Monterey Park, Valencia and Valley Village.

    The forged Grand Deeds were recorded on properties in Compton and South Los Angeles.

    Search warrants were executed at Suspect Moskovyan’s office in Glendale and her residence in North Hollywood which produced allegedly certified copies of the forged Grant Deeds and forged Mechanic’s Liens she had allegedly fraudulently recorded at the Los Angeles County Recorder’s Office.

    Suspect Moskovyan is currently in custody with a bail of $1.24 million. The next court date is April 16, 2013. Los Angeles Superior Court case number BA409181.
For the Los Angeles County Sheriff's press release, see Arrest Made in Sophisticated Real Estate Fraud of 100 Properties in Los Angeles County.

Convicted Felon Duped Disabled Senior Into Signing Over Title To Her Home Under Guise Of Getting Reverse Mortgage, Then Converted Entire Equity To His Own Use: Lawsuit

In Vancouver, Washington, Courthouse News Service reports:

  • A mortgage broker defrauded an elderly disabled woman of her house by having her sign it over to him and telling her it was a reverse mortgage, the woman's guardian claims in court.

    Jeanine Wyman sued Sheldon Harmon, his business Lighthouse Financial Group et al. in Clark County Court. Wyman, through her attorney-in-fact, accuses Harmon of victimizing her through equity skimming, a felony.

    Harmon ran the Lighthouse Financial Group until the State of Washington revoked his license in 2010. Federal prosecutors in Portland, Ore. charged Harmon with bank fraud and money laundering in 2012. He was accused of using phony leases to persuade a bank to loan him more than $3 million to refinance his office in Vancouver, Wash., across the Columbia River from Portland.

    Wyman claims Harmon victimized her when she tried to refinance her home.

    "Sheldon Harmon advised Ms. Wyman that she was elderly and disabled and thus qualified for a 'reverse mortgage,'" the complaint states. "In fact, Harmon was operating an equity skimming scam.

    "As part of the equity skimming operation Harmon had plaintiff execute documents which she understood would result in a reverse mortgage whereby she would continue to own and live in the property for the remainder of her life or until she wished to sell. During that time she would receive monthly payments that would cover the taxes and insurance on the property. Lighthouse/Harmon would also pay the existing mortgage on the property and any liens.

    "In fact, the papers executed were a quit claim deed transferring title to the property to Harmon." (Citation to Washington law omitted.)

    Harmon applied for a home equity credit line with defendant MacQuarie Mortgage USA, and "converted all equity in the property to his own use," according to the complaint.

    "The transaction was part of an ongoing business transaction with MacQuarie whereby Harmon acquitted other properties in the same manner.

    "MacQuarie knew or in the exercise of any diligence would have known that the transaction was fraudulent and an equity skimming transaction," the complaint states.

    "The facts that would have been uncovered with any inquiry include at least the following: Ms. Wyman continued to reside in the home. Ms. Wyman believed she still owned the home subject only to the reverse mortgage. The consideration for the 'purchase' of the home currently valued by MacQuarie at $200,000 was less than $15,000, consisting of paying the existing mortgage balance of approximately $11,000 and compromising an IRS lien.

    "The least inquiry would have disclosed that Harmon's interest had been acquired in a transaction that was a felony under Washington law." Wyman says Harmon and MacQuarie entered into similar deals on at least five other houses, and that "each transaction was a felony."

    "Sheldon Harmon was convicted of multiple felonies arising out of his operation of Lighthouse ... and was sentenced to federal prison," the complaint states.

    To top it off, MacQuarie scheduled a March 22 auction to sell Wyman's home at foreclosure. Courthouse News could determine by press time whether the foreclosure sale went through.

    Harmon, who is in his 30s, is "currently a resident of the federal penitentiary in Utah," according to Wyman's complaint.Also named as defendants are Kyra Harmon and Northwest Trustee Services.

    Wyman seeks an injunction, quiet title and damages for fraud and criminal profiteering.

Monday, April 15, 2013

State Regulator Commences Enforcement Action Against 32 Outfits Peddling Loan Modification Services To Financially Strapped Washington Homeowners

From the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions:

  • The Consumer Services Division of the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) announced today that it filed 32 Statements of Charges against businesses preying on Washington homeowners facing foreclosure. This action follows another multi-company sweep DFI conducted in September 2012 when it issued 40 Statements of Charges against unlicensed businesses offering loan modification services to Washington residents.

    Of the 32 Statements of Charges in this latest round of enforcement actions, 31 are against businesses located outside of Washington, about half of which are attorneys or affiliated with attorneys.
For the DFI press release, see DFI Charges 32 Companies In Continuing Effort To Combat Unlicensed Loan Modification Activity (DFI seeks full restitution, prohibition from operating in Washington, $426,000 in fines).

Go here for the list of 32 alleged rackets cited by DFI.

WV Supremes: State Consumer Protection Statute Provides No Relief For Allegedly Screwed Over Couple Where Mortgage Constituted A "Commercial" Loan (As Opposed To A Consumer Or Agricultural Loan)

In Charleston, West Virginia, The West Virginia Record reports:

  • The state Supreme Court has ruled against a Preston County couple who sought to have a bank loan characterized as a “consumer loan” rather than a “commercial loan.”

    Doing so might have found them relief under the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act. The court issued the unanimous memorandum opinion affirming the Circuit Court of Preston County’s Order Granting Summary Judgment to the bank on March 29.

    Wayne and Dorothy Miller took out three loans through Clear Mountain Bank in 2008-2010. After the bank foreclosed on certain collateral, the Millers asserted that the bank violated the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act.

    The circuit court entered summary judgment for the bank, finding as a matter of law that the WVCCPA did not apply because the loans were commercial loans and the WVCCPA only applies to consumer transactions.
For more, see Preston couple can’t bring loan claim under consumer protection statute.

For the West Virginia high court ruling, see Miller v. Clear Mountain Bank, Inc., No. 11-1430 (W.V. March 29, 2013)

Justice Dept. Settlement With BAC, Saxon To Yield $115K+ To Servicemembers Screwed Over By Allegedly Unlawful Foreclosures

From the U.S. Department of Justice (Washington, D.C.):

  • The Justice Department announced [] that under its 2011 settlements with BAC Home Loans Servicing LP, a subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation, and Saxon Mortgage Servicing Inc., a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley, 316 service members whose homes were unlawfully foreclosed upon between 2006 and 2010 are due to receive over $39 million in monetary relief for alleged violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).

    Under the first settlement, Bank of America is required to pay over $36.8 million to service members whose homes were unlawfully foreclosed upon between 2006 and 2010. Each service member will receive a minimum of $116,785, plus compensation for any equity lost with interest.

    Bank of America has already begun compensating 142 service members whose homes were illegally foreclosed on between 2006 and the middle of 2009. Under the same agreement, Bank of America agreed to provide information about its foreclosures from mid-2009 through the end of 2010. As a result of that review, Bank of America will now pay 155 service members upon whose homes it illegally foreclosed.

    Borrowers receiving payment under this settlement may receive an additional payment under a settlement between Bank of America and federal banking regulators -- the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System -- if the foreclosure occurred in 2009 or 2010. Payments provided under the federal banking regulators’ settlement will bring the total amount received by eligible borrowers to $125,000 plus equity where applicable.

    Under the second settlement, Saxon Mortgage Services Inc. is in the process of paying out over $2.5 million to 19 service members whose homes were unlawfully foreclosed upon between 2006 and 2010. Each service member will receive a minimum of $130,555.56, plus compensation for any equity lost with interest.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Foreclosure Fraud Settlement Checks To Begin Going Out; Most To Get Paltry Payments

Bloomberg reports:

  • Rust Consulting Inc. will begin sending $125,000 checks to 1,135 borrowers deemed most harmed by botched foreclosures in 2009 and 2010 that led to a $9.3 billion settlement between regulators and U.S. mortgage servicers.

    The consulting firm is distributing $3.6 billion that servicers including JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Bank of America Corp. agreed to pay to settle claims they improperly seized homes in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis, according to a statement from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Federal Reserve.

    Payments will begin to go out April 12, with as many as 90 percent of more than 4 million affected borrowers expected to receive their checks this month, according to the regulators. The agencies expect the process to extend into mid-July, and they are still working on payments to borrowers from servicers that had been affiliated with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Morgan Stanley. (MS)

    Those at the top of the scale for potential harm will receive $125,000, and the 2.6 million categorized at the lowest of 11 rungs of potential harm will get $300, the regulators said. The remainder of the settlement money from the 13 servicers who signed on is meant to be used to prevent future foreclosures.

    After a rash of botched foreclosures during the previous decade’s housing-market collapse, an earlier 2011 settlement called for the servicers to hire outside consultants to review the cases one-by-one and compensate borrowers based on actual harm. After the process was beset by delays, those reviews were mostly scrapped in the current settlement, which is meant to give some level of payment to every borrower who went through foreclosure during the two-year period.

    The Government Accountability Office said in a report released last week that insufficient guidance from the OCC and Federal Reserve slowed down the earlier review process. A Senate subcommittee will examine the relationship between regulators and outside consultants in an April 11 hearing.

Stripped Of R/E License For Collecting Upfront Fees For Foreclosure Rescue Services, Suspected Con Artist Continues In Business; Says 'We No Longer Do Loan Mods, We Peddle An 'Educational Packaging Service' For $1,995!' Victim: Refund Guarantee Paid With Rubber Checks

In Petaluma, California, KABC-TV Channel 7 reports:

  • Police in Petaluma are getting complaints about a local company that has been stripped of its real estate license. They're accused of taking money from homeowners for services they never performed.

    The Department of Real Estate revoked Mortgage Modifiers of its real estate license in October, but the doors of the company remain open and some of its clients are wondering how that's possible. 7 On Your Side decided to take a look at what's going on.

    Lisa Marvier's home sits on 1.6 acres in Novato. It's also known as Farm Girl Nursery. It is a you-pick farm and summer camp for kids. Both the home and the property are currently underwater.

    "This is my dream. This is the home we built from scratch and I certainly don't want to lose it," said Marvier.

    Deanna Reade's home in Windsor is also underwater. Like Marvier, Reade is struggling to save her home. She heard about a company known as Mortgage Modifiers in Petaluma from a friend. She said the company promised to get her mortgage lowered by $1,000 a month.

    "The original loan was supposed to be modified down to basically what our home was valued at now," said Reade.

    Marvier says she received similar promises when she met with Miguel Lopez. Lopez is described in court papers as the president of Mortgage Modifiers.

    "When I met with him and he showed me the numbers. He showed me that everything could be reduced. The interest rate could be reduced, the principal could be reduced," said Marvier.

    Marvier and Reade are just two of the people who have filed complaints with Petaluma police.

    "No service was ever completed. They ask for a refund which supposedly was guaranteed to them and they never got a refund," said Petaluma Police Lt. Tim Lyons.

    The department says it has received 11 complaints about Mortgage Modifiers and they are aware of other complaints as far north as Cloverdale and Ukiah. Mortgage Modifiers sublets space in an office park in Petaluma, but the company has no signage on the office.

    In October, the Department of Real Estate upheld a judge's decision stripping the real estate licenses of both Miguel Lopez and Mortgage Modifiers. Both were found to have illegally collected advance fees for performing services for borrowers in connection to loans.
  • Lopez was not available [...], but by email he told us he didn't need a real estate license. He said, "This company does not conduct loans and or real estate, such a license is not needed. This company provides a packaging service."

    "This is the whole entire packet that you received from Miguel. It's his educational package that he claims is for the $1,995," said Reade.

    She said the package included a request for a modification, her financial and loan information, a property value report and other documents.

    Reade showed us emails from Lopez promising he would make sure the file became a priority in the lender's eyes. In the emails Lopez urged her to let him do all the calling and faxing to the lender. However, Lopez denies the $1,995 he charged is an advanced fee.

    "We offer a packaging service. Clients pay for the package and nothing more," said Lopez.

    Marvier, however, isn't buying any of that. "To know from the start here to the end that it was all a lie, I don't trust anyone anymore," said Marvier.

    The Petaluma Police Department has forwarded all of the complaints to the state attorney general.

    The contract both Marvier and Reade signed guaranteed a refund if the educational financial package submitted to the lender does not render a positive outcome. Reade received two refund checks that both bounced. Marvier's refund request was denied.

Kansas Homeowner Gets Probation, $5K Fine For Recording Phony Lien Satisfaction Prior To Attempting Home Refinance

From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (Topeka, Kansas):

  • A woman from Wabaunsee County, Kan., has been sentenced to two years federal probation and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine for mortgage fraud, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.

    Linda Kay Miller, 51, Alma, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud. In her plea, she admitted fraudulently submitting false documents to New Century Bank of Manhattan, Kan., in an effort to obtain a $200,000 mortgage loan. Miller admitted she created documents falsely stating that a $65,000 second mortgage on her home in Wabaunsee County had been paid in full. She filed the false documents with the Wabaunsee County Register of Deeds.
For the U.S. Attorney press release, see Wabaunsee County Woman Sentenced For Mortgage Fraud.